Equine Therapy

Who would have thought in their wildest dreams that horses could help in soothing people, when they are emotionally tensed and assist people with neuro- muscular disorders and cerebral palsy to maintain balance and ride the horse! As astonishing and unimaginable as it sounds, it’s true and a new term has been coined to refer to this therapeutic mode of healing called “Equine Therapy”.

An equine therapy provides a very unique experience with horses, which promotes emotional growth. People can ride the horses, without dreading rejection, as horses do not judge their riders’ emotions. Thus, in a way people get to look within themselves and rectify any faulty behaviour pattern and/or feelings. This process is a very useful addition to the treatment process. The insight, which these people gain through the entire procedure, aids them in attaining mental peace. Equine-assisted activities are very effective for children, because of the nature of mental and social development. Nevertheless, these activities produce favourable improvements in riders of all ages.

We have seen that with horse-loving people, the horse has always been a medium of learning and understanding. There are many naturally occurring activities in an equine environment, which provide gainful learning and also help build self confidence in the riders. It is often seen that people with special requirements remain aloof from their peer group. This leads to mental frustration and tension. The failures and injuries of the past begin to haunt people, in a way, making them unable to cope with the present. Their mental balance is torn asunder.

But, coming together in a group of people, sharing your interests provides you with some sort of will power and Equine Assisted Therapy does just that, as it takes place in a group with a maximum of 8 participants. It is facilitated by a certified therapist and a trained professional therapist. The process involves establishing a relationship with a horse on the ground and then evolves into the nurturing of that relationship, which may or may not end with actual riding .People, motivated by horses benefit positively from building upon the strength they derive from the sight, smell, touch and sound of a horse. It is believed that it is much easier to see, hear and feel things from a horse than from other people, because the results of an operation are honestly reflected by the horse.

According to people, who have benefited from equine therapy, the experience of riding a horse is in itself an exhilarating experience. A horse always conveys some message and the allegorical ride itself turns into an enriching experience, both of the soul and the body.

The ride on a horse requires balance, agility; co-ordination etc., which itself provides a rider with a relaxed mind. All this strengthens the muscles (the same ones used in walking), which is beneficial to people with physical illnesses and muscular disorders. But, looking at this therapy from the other viewpoint, one also has to take into consideration the resulting impact on the horse. It is seen that in some horses, the stress levels start increasing and they hesitate before starting their sessions, depicting fear of overburdening and working hard whereas in some other horses, there are lesser stress levels. Thus, it remains inconclusive from the various investigations, whether this therapy has a negative or positive impact on horses.

There are hundreds of programs around the world, as well as many organizations dedicated to the various forms of equine-assisted activities and this concept is gradually becoming popular. Thus, humans for many years have benefited from this therapy, reaping physical and psychological benefits. So, you are lucky, horse lovers.
Madhavi Khatre
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